How dental assisting can springboard your dental career

building blocks forming a staircase

Dental assisting is a fulfilling, lifelong career for many people. It can also open many doors for those interested in a career in dentistry, whether that means pursuing or continuing in dental assisting or moving to other areas in the dental field. Below are some of the jobs that dental assisting can help lead you toward.

Lead dental assistant

If you aspire to train, mentor, and manage people, becoming a team lead is often the natural next step. As a lead dental assistant, you have the opportunity to take on more leadership in your practice. Other dental assistants will look to you for guidance, and you may also provide feedback, manage the staff schedule, and serve as a key liaison between the dentist or practice administrator and the dental assistants.

Learn more: Is being a lead dental assistant right for you?

Infection control coordinator

Most dental assistants perform infection control duties in their practices. DANB’s Salary and Satisfaction Survey found that 86% of dental assistants are responsible for infection control tasks. With such a strong base of knowledge in this area, dental assistants often step into the role of infection control coordinator or specialist. In this position, you may perform tasks such as developing and implementing office infection control protocols, logging safety records, and training the dental staff.

Learn more: How to become an infection control coordinator

Office manager

In most offices, the dental office manager or practice administrator is viewed as a leader. They typically oversee the day-to-day operations in a practice so the dental assistants, hygienists, and dentists can focus on patient care. An office manager’s duties can be wide-ranging and may include scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records, processing payments, financial reporting, and human resource management. Dental assistants often make excellent office managers because they already possess many of the necessary skills, such as strong organizational abilities and experience communicating with patients, hygienists, and doctors. And because dental assistants manage a variety of duties and have a deep understanding of how the office runs, stepping into an office manager role is often a natural next step.

Learn more: 3 perks of being a dental office manager

Dental assisting educator

Dental assistants often love learning, and they might enjoy passing on their knowledge to colleagues. As a result, many dental assistants develop a passion for teaching and go on to educate the next generation of assistants. If you’ve worked as a dental assistant for many years and are looking for a new challenge that allows you to stay in dentistry, becoming an instructor could be an ideal next step in your career.

Dental hygienist

Many dental professionals begin their careers as assistants and transition to hygiene. Former dental assistants can make fantastic hygienists because they have in-depth dental knowledge, have an understanding of how an office operates on a daily basis, and are highly skilled at working with patients. As a hygienist, you’ll work more closely with patients in a one-on-one setting to provide preventive care. This includes removing plaque and tartar, applying fluoride, and screening for oral health conditions.

Learn more: What’s the difference between a dental assistant and dental hygienist?